Larry “Guitar” Baeder
” You can’t play American music without feeling you’re a link in the chain.”
Larry Baeder was born in Philadelphia and raised in Kansas City, Kansas. Many of the older jazz greats from Kansas City (Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Lester Young) were still alive while Larry was growing up and played a significant influence.
Larry’s explanation of his preference for the electric guitar is filled with musical lore. “The electric guitar was invented in the U.S. It is loud! Since the 1950’s, the guitar has been the dominant instrument of our musical culture. It’s affordable and portable. Something about the electric guitar connects to a young man in a very primal way.”
As a teenager, Larry played a classical violin. At fifteen, he could not even get a date. Larry learned to play the guitar, and two years later, he was playing regular guitar gigs and had a girlfriend who drove a Corvette. No more violin.
Larry moved to Boston where he met Danny “Mo” Morris. They played together with the James Montgomery Band for six years. While in Boston, Larry studied and graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in 1979.
Larry moved to New York, started doing studio work, and playing guitar for Buddy Guy, Carly Simon, James Taylor, and many others. He also began his longest musical association with soul legend, Chuck Jackson (“Any Day Now”), who was a staple at the Apollo Theater. Chuck is an amazing singer and Larry enjoys playing with people he knows and loves. There were also interludes when Larry got to sit in with Muddy Waters that he considers almost spiritual.
He toured with The Temptations off and on during his career and remembers a special moment with them in Johannesburg, South Africa, shortly after Nelson Mandela had been released from prison in 1990. They were performing in a stadium with an audience of over 100, 000. The Temptations started playing their famous hit, “My Girl”, and chillingly, the entire stadium started singing along “My girl, my girl, my girl… Talkin’ ‘bout my girl”. Larry performed with the Temptations at the Tennessee Williams Theater in 2019.
Twenty-nine years ago, during Hurricane Andrew, Charlie Bauer (then manager of the Hog’s Breath) brought Larry, Chris Clifton, and a full band to play. Afterwards, Larry would take breaks from working in New York and return to Key West to get away. After 9/11, the opportunities to play in New York dried up but there was plenty of work for a musician in Key West, so he moved in 2002.
One of the things that makes Key West so attractive to Larry is the sense of community – how we come together as “One Human Family.” When someone is hurt or in need, the music community always turns out to perform for a fundraiser.
From Larry’s perspective, “You can’t play American music without feeling you’re a link in the chain. A musician needs the understanding of musical history – not just who played what or when, but an understanding of the subtle and not so subtle intricacies, and sometimes slight differences, that separates musicians from one another. Most importantly needed is an appreciation and thirst to learn those differences. Without that, you’re just a music technician.”
In 2011, Larry joined the Bahama Village Music Program’s Board of Directors and served as President 2013-2020. He helped expand the program beyond the existing Joyful Voices choir, trained the first BVMP Jazz Ensemble, and later, encourage the formation of the School of Rock, the Suzuki Strings, the Ukulele Orchestra, and the House of Pan (steel pan drums). He has taught Music Theory and Improvisation classes every year. Prior to Covid-19, BVMP taught music to over 220 children weekly for free.
Larry’s prior association with Danny “Mo” Morris (now professor at Berklee) helped him to connect BVMP directly to the college. Berklee now provides two scholarships for their five-week summer program to BVMP students and continuous access to their online Berklee Pulse Program.
Full disclosure, Larry is currently teaching this author ‘the art of the guitar’, to become another link in the chain.